Painting by Alfons Mucha
Graces Pisek, N. Dak., Church

Saint John Nepomucene Catholic Church

Pisek, N. Dak.

Portraits of Saints Cyril and Methodius
Color Reproduction
Presented to
St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church

In Memory Of

By His Friends at the University of North Dakota

Lewis and Kay Oring
Bernard O'Kelly
Robert and Nikki Seabloom
Vera Facey
Omer Larson
Richard Crawford
Ed and Marjorie Behringer
Larry Loendorf
Tim Messenger
Dale Finnie
Stephen Maxson
Keith Killingbeck
Bethanie R. Meier
Donald and Paulette Sparling
Louis Iverson
Ralph Reigh
Elliot Shubert
Paul DuBowy
Nile Fellows
Debi Hendrickson
Rick McVoy
John Meany
Steve Pugh
Jerry Reinisch
Tom Starks
Bryan Stotts
Peggy Stupca

(Cover Photo by Glenn Paur)

History of Pisek Church

The first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Pisek was offered up in a school house in May, 1884, by Father F. X. Sulak, a Jesuit Missionary born in Bohemia. In 1886, Pisek became a mission and organized a parish. There were 16 parishioners, and a church 26 feet by 40 feet was built for $800.00.1

In 1887 the church was blessed by Bishop Martin on the feast of St. John Nepomucene, May 16; and, St. John Nepomucene was chosen as the church patron. From 1886 to 1890 Rev. Vaclav Dvorak from Wahpeton served mass once a month. Thomas Rabsteinek came to Pisek to offer mass until 1897, when Rev. Charles Votypka was installed by Bishop Shanley as the first resident priest.2

The growth of the congregation necessitated the erection of a new church in 1892. It is this church that is our present church and is pictured on the cover.

In 1916 the interior of the church was tinned and painted; unique colored windows were installed and new Stations of the Cross were bought for the church.3

In the mid-1920's a full basement, winter chapel (under the church) and a furnace were installed. Citizens of Pisek used horse teams and scrapers to dig out for the basement.

The present pastor of St. John's Church is Rev. John Roth who arrived here in 1948 and celebrated his Silver Jubilee to the Priesthood here in Pisek on June 19, 1966.

An annex was added to the west side of the church in 1975. It contains a front lobby with front and side entrances, a praying room and rest rooms.

Rev. John Roth serves approximately 120 families through the St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church, and he also serves the parishioners of the St. Mark's Church of Conway, North Dakota.

1Gunder V. Berg, editor. Walsh Heritage - A Story of Walsh County and Its Pioneers. Published by Walsh County Historical Society. 1976. Volume II. p. 647.

Painting by Alfons Mucha Graces Pisek, North Dakota, Church

Copyright 1979 by Faith Chyle Knutson

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without permission in writing from the author.

Printing, Except for Color Picture and Dedication Page, by Associated Printers, Grafton and Grand Forks, N.D.

Painting by Alfons Mucha
Graces Pisek, North Dakota, Church

Faith Chyle Knutson

Publication made possible by St. John's Guild of Pisek


The painting of Saints Cyril and Methodius is a legacy of which all the people of Pisek can be truly proud. I am thankful that I am able to experience the beauty in this work of art and hope others can find the same joy through their observations of the painting and the material in this booklet.

Much of the following booklet was originally written as an entry for the Red River Valley Historical Society Essay Contest in 1967 when I was a junior in high school. It received first place in the contest; therefore, I would like to thank some of the people who helped me prepare the essay and made its success possible. I would like to thank my parents and family for their help and support; Father Roth for his cooperation and information; Mr. Roger Johnson (my high school English teacher) for his guidance; and especially, Monsignor Lekavy for all the time he spent with me and all the information with which he provided me.

For support and additional information for the publishing of this booklet I would like to thank the St. John's Guild, my husband, Jorgen D. Knutson, Mary Ann Metzger, Mary Mahacek, Mrs. Cy (Marie) Greicar, Mrs. Ben (Marie) Greicar, Kay Oring, Dean Bernard O'Kelly, Lorene Whitesides Larson, and others too numerous to name.

The printing of this booklet was made possible by the (1978-79) members of St. John's Guild of Pisek, North Dakota.

Faith Chyle Knutson

Within a modest, eighty-seven year old church in a small Red River Valley farming village, hangs a classical-styled portrait of Saints Cyril and Methodius. The church that possesses this picture is the St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in the Czechoslovakian community of Pisek, North Dakota.

The history of the picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius by the now famous artist, Alfons Mucha, is closely connected with the history of the Czechoslovakian settlements in North Dakota around 1880, especially of the Pisek community in Walsh County. Most of the settlers of Pisek, although native from Bohemia and Moravia, came from their former settlements in Iowa and Wisconsin.

The Pisek community, it is believed, got its name around the time when the railroad was built and was called Pisek for two reasons. Firstly, a number of the pioneers originally came from the vicinity of a well known city in southern Bohemia called Pisek. Secondly, Pisek, which is the Czech word for gravel or sand, was a very fitting name for a community located at the extreme western edge of the Red River Valley and immediately east of the rich deposits of gravel from the former glacial lake.

Historian Habenicht mentions in his book4 the following names as the early settlers in the Pisek vicinity: Frank Votava, Anton Vavrik, John Kostohryz, Wenceslaus Velek, Adalbert Machart and "an energetic and bright man"5 Frank Rumreich as well as John Lovcik, who built the first house in Pisek.

These first Czechoslovakian settlers were all of Catholic faith. They brought with them their religious customs, prayers, songs, religious objects, and also, their beloved national saints. Their early interest was in establishing a center of worship with a priest who could understand their language.

After such a center was established in Pisek, an argument started among the early settlers about choosing a patron saint for their church. Those from Bohemia favored Saint John Nepomucene (a 14th century saint and priest of the diocese of Prague, who was - besides Saint Adalbert, 10th century bishop of Prague, - the best known Bohemian saint). The settlers from Moravia favored rather Saints Cyril and Methodius, who were Apostles of the Great Moravia of the 9th century and of all Slavs. There were more Bohemians and several John's in the parish so they won the argument. Ironically, the Pisek Church was dedicated to Saint John Nepomucene while the picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius makes it famous.

Alfons Mucha's picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius is a 6 feet by 10 feet oil painting. It portrays the two Greek brothers from Thessalonica, who brought the faith to Moravia more than 1,100 years ago.

On the left central part is Saint Cyril in a brownish monk's garb. His right hand points toward the picture of God, the Creator of the world. Under his feet are the defeated idols of the pagan Slavs.

On the right central part, in ornate archiepiscopal vestments, is Saint Methodius in a kneeling position. At his knees are a cross, a book and a miter (headpiece). Under Saint Methodius, in the lower right corner, is a picture of the present time Velehrad, where he is believed to be buried, and the fortress of Buchlov, which is still standing today, but in ruins.

The two brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, not only brought the faith to Moravia, but also accomplished many other deeds. Cyril, who was originally called Constantine, changed his name and entered a Benedictine monastery in Rome, where he died shortly afterward.6 He was a great scholar and a disciple of the famous Patriarch Photius. He invented a new alphabet suited for the Slavonic language and translated the liturgical books and most of the Bible into Slavonic (or Slavic), originating, in this way, Slavic culture and literature. These liturgical books were the first "vernacular" liturgy in the Catholic Church. Saint Methodius became the first bishop of Great Moravia and of Pannonia, which comprised Central Europe at the second half of the 9th century.

Alfons Maria Mucha, the now famous Czechoslovakian artist, was born on July 24, 1860, in Ivancice, (Moravia) Czechoslovakia. "He had learned to draw before he could walk and his mother

4Jan Habenicht. Dejiny Cechuv Americkych [History of Czechs in America] (St. Louis. Missouri. 1904) p. 384.
6For more information see Francis Dvornik's Two Problems in the History of Saint Constantine-Cyrill. 1966. (Msgr. Francis Dvornik, also a native from Moravia, was a Professor emeritus of the Harvard University, the first Czech and Catholic priest that ever was Professor of Harvard.)


used to tie a necklace of crayons around his neck so that he could exercise his talent whenever he wanted."7

As a teenager, Mucha studied at the "First Czechoslovakian classical gymnasium"8 in Brno.9 He entered the gymnasium in the school year of 1872-73, and he studied there for five years. Joseph Zeleny, Mucha's art professor for the five years that he was at the gymnasium, advised Mucha to leave his studies and concentrate on drawings. Thus, Mucha left the gymnasium in the school year 1876-77.

He accepted, in 1878, employment as a painter of opera in the firm, "Burghart, Kautaky, and Broichi" in Vienna. After the firm was destroyed by fire, he left in 1881 and returned to his native country, Moravia. He stayed in the city of Mikulov for three years.

The Count Khuen-Belasi offered Mucha a job in his Castle Emmahof in Hrusova. Upon completing his work, Count Khuen-Belasi sent Mucha to his brother's castle and mountainous scenery. The art-loving Count Khuen-Belasi, recognized 25 years old Mucha's great gift and sent him to the painter William Kray for advice. The count then paid Mucha's way while he was in the Art Academy in Munich, Germany. Here Mucha made acquaintances with important Czechoslovakian, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, and other artists.

After two years in the Art Academy, Count Khuen-Belasi gave Mucha a choice of staying at the academy or going to Paris. Mucha decided to go to Paris, where at the age of 34 he received a 6-year contract from the actress Sarah Bernhardt. This job was the opportunity he needed to show his artistic talent. It was here, around the turn of the century, that Mucha became known as a painter of a new decorative style of art.

This tendrilous international style of art nouveau swept over Europe, dominating the design of everything from the Paris Metro stations to ordinary knives and forks.

It was a noble aim, this idea that man-made things should follow nature's masterpiece and that all objects, whether a ring or a house, should have an organic relationship to each other. But to live with art nouveau, came to be like living in a world of peacock tails; it was not so much art as an empty, if dazzling embellishment.

The inevitable reaction against it was particularly violent, and the whole movement was dismissed as a rather ludicrous, if temporary, aberration. Artists like Alfons Mucha, if remembered at all, seemed as out dated as gaslight and their work as decadent as Oscar Wilde's sunflower.10

"The world quickly became familiar with Mucha's larger-than-life posters of Sarah Bernhardt in her many roles, from 'Hamlet' to 'Camille'."11 Mucha not only designed posters for her, but some of her sets and costumes as well. Mucha became the most sought after artist in Paris.

(Post cards, like the original posters made for Sarah Bernhardt's plays in the Theatre de la Renaissance, are shown as reproductions on pages 8-10.)

Mucha gained great fame at the 1900 World's Fair in Paris. He had various pictures, designs, posters, jewelry, fabrics, and even rug designs exhibited at the Fair. Mucha designed the furnishings of a pavilion, which was the greatest interest of all the visitors at the Fair. For this work, he was awarded a Silver Plaque and at the end of the Fair he was named Knight of the Order of Franz Josef I. The French jury also gave Mucha the highest rating of Grand Prix (gold medal) for his decorative publications. In addition, he received a silver medal for his designing and a bronze medal for his sculpturing. The French government also named him a Knight of "Legion d' Honneur." With many of his exhibitions at this World's Fair, Mucha's fame spread all over the world and brought him an enormous amount of work.

After many repeated invitations to visit the United States, Mucha accepted an invitation and went to the United States in 1904. He was for a time a guest of the American President Theodore Roosevelt and his family. Mucha made portraits in the most important American families and also of well-known

7"Master of the Tendrilous," Time, LXXXI (1963), 57.
8Eduard Policka, Alfons Maria Mucha v numismatickych pamatkach [Alfons Maria Mucha's Numerous Memories] (Prague, 1964), p. 3.
9Until 1918, Moravia was a part of Austria-Hungary. Though the population was of Czechoslovakian nationality, all the schools of higher education had been German. This gymnasium in Brno was established in 1867 as the first Czechoslovakian school.
10"Master of the Tendrilous," Time, LXXXI (1963), 57.


actresses, like Ethel Barrymore, Maude Adams, and others. He also had exhibits in New York, Chicago, and some other large American cities. In addition to Mucha's many works of art, he was asked by the government to organize art education in the United States. He assisted in this and also taught art classes to hundreds of students.

Between 1904 and 1913 Mucha visited America six times, hoping to accumulate enough capital to begin work on his painting of the Slav epic and to insure the future of his family. (Alfons Mucha married Maruska Chytilova on June 10, 1906, in Prague.) "In spite of his large earnings, he never had a penny in the bank and often ran into debt through lending to friends."12

When Mucha returned to his homeland he worked for 20 years at the Castle Zbirov in Bohemia. When Czechoslovakia became a nation, after World War I, Moravia-born Mucha designed its first stamps and bank notes. His only daughter, Jaroslava, was often his model on the Czechoslovakian currency.13

(Some of the currency designed by Mucha can be seen in the reproductions on page 11).

Alfons Mucha spent the last years of his life working, at the Castle Zbirvo in Bohemia, on a series of academic pictures portraying the history of his people. Alfons called this cycle of 20 huge paintings the Slav Epic, and it took him over 18 years to complete. He painted the first three pictures - each 6x8 meters (194 ft. x 26 ft.) in size - in quick succession. "They are among the best. They are not descriptive nor dynamic, but are intentionally static, meditative. Reality in them is interwoven with fantasy, with floating, ethereal figures. They draw on the very beginnings, on the oldest history of the Slavs."14 (Reproductions of two of the paintings of the Slav Epic can be seen on page 14.)

In 1928 Mucha donated his cycle to Prague. Unfortunately, because of the exceptional size of the pictures and for other reasons, the collection could not be installed permanently in Prague. Later, in the postwar years, it was taken to the Moravsky Krumlov Chateau to which it was loaned by Prague for permanent exhibition.

The Slavonic Epopee is one of the most splendid examples of Czech monumental painting and, being Czech, then of Slavonic culture as a whole. It is Mucha's artistic and personal creed, a treasury of his artistic achievements and experience as also of his love for all that is Slavonic. Finally, it is one of the most valuable Czech contributions to the cultural treasure house of the nations of the world.15

Besides Mucha's prizes and recognition he died without experiencing the praise and honors due him and his beautiful paintings. Alfons Mucha died on July 14, 1939, and was buried at the national cemetery in Prague.

(Some of the medals that he received for his works are shown in reproduction on pages 12-13.) Alfons Mucha's picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius has an interesting history, from the time of its painting up to the present time. This Pisek painting is not art nouveau - rather, it is a simple academic effort which won Mucha a composition prize at the Munich Academy in the 1880's.

For many years the large oil painting was hanging in the nave of the Pisek Church and the people used to light vigil lights in front of it. In the late 40's, the identification of the picture and its origin and value was some way lost and it was moved to the choir loft.

In the early 50's, Father Lekavy,16 during a visit to the Pisek Church noticed the painting, recognized it as a work of art, and identified it later as the work of Alfons Mucha. He was well acquainted with Mucha's works. Father Lekavy was also a student (1923-1931) of the "First Czechoslovakian classical gymnasium" in Brno. He has seen many art exhibitions of the, by then, famous ex-alumnus of the school, Alfons Mucha, especially his great collection of huge paintings called "Slavonic Epopee" depicting great events from the Slavonic history.

It was fortunate that Father Lekavy remembered that Mucha was born in Ivancice, and looking,

12Jiri Mucha, The Master of Art Nouveau Alphonse Mucha, Feltham, Middlesex, England: Hamlyn Publishing Group LTD, 1966, pp. 204 & 207.
13Alfons Mucha also had a son, George (Jiri), who is a journalist and collaborates with the Czechoslovakian Communist government. Because he is in his government's favor, he is allowed to travel quite freely and often to the United States.
14Dobroslav Kotek, "Alfons Mucha Slovanska Epopei," Praha: Press CTK Foto.
16Monsignor Petr Lekavy is, at present, pastor of two North Dakota parishes, Saint Bridget's Catholic Church in Cavalier and Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in Crystal. He came to this country as a refugee from Czechoslovakia in 1950 and was pastor of Saint Michael's Church in Wales, North Dakota, at the time he first saw the picture.


one day, through Habenicht's History of Czechoslovakians in America, he noticed that some of the Pisek pioneers - Anton Vavrik and Frank Rumreich - were born in the vicinity of Ivancice. Checking later the baptismal records of the Pisek Church he discovered that a Mrs. Frank Schuller was born Frances Mucha (or Muchova) which proved later to be the artist's cousin. It was also discovered that Frank Rumreich's brother, Wenceslaus, was also married to Alfons Mucha's cousin. Also established was that Mrs. Zdenek of the Pisek community was related to the Muchas, and that she was in correspondence with Alfons Mucha's daughter, Mrs. Jaroslava Tersova-Muchova in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

On May 31, 1963, the Time magazine published an article on the tendrilous international style of art nouveau and on Mucha's paintings in that particular style of art. The article mentions Mucha, whose paintings enjoy an uncommon resurgence of interest in galleries from New York, New York, to London, England.

. . . lately art nouveau has been getting a new look. Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art had a big show of it three years ago [1960], and in London last week [week of May 24,1963] Alphonse Mucha was once again a big name with simultaneous shows at the Grosvenor and Jeffress Galleries and the Victoria and Albert Museum.17

The Griffin Galleries in New York were planning to have an exhibition of Mucha's works and were interested in the Pisek painting; however, the picture was not entered in the exhibit, because of the trouble in transporting it to New York.

Dick Youngblood, Minneapolis Tribune staff writer in Grand Forks, heard about the picture and was interested in publishing an article about it. Just before he did, he asked a professor from the University of North Dakota's Art Department to look over the picture. It was done, but the professor declared the picture worthless. Mr. Youngblood called Mr. Bruce Duff Hooton, head of the Griffin Gallery in New York, and asked him about the picture. He was assured that there was very likely such a work in Pisek. To the question, whether it could be worth $25,000 he got the answer: "At least. Simple printed Mucha's posters command today $300-$500." From this conversation an article in the Minneapolis Tribune followed on January 19, 1964: ("Czech Artist's Work - Church Finds It Has Art Worth $25,000").

In a letter to Father Roth,18 pastor of the Pisek Church, Mr. Hooton wrote, "Mucha is one of Europe's great, and until this time, neglected artists." When the true value of the picture was known. Father Roth had it returned to its original place on the south wall near the front of the church, where it presently hangs.

The news about the article published in the Minneapolis Tribune was published in several other papers, Czech and English. Some way the story got to Prague, in the hands of Mucha's daughter, Jaroslava, who also is an artist and works for the government of Czechoslovakia, restoring works of art in the museum in Prague. Very interesting details were received by mail from Jaroslava, including her willingness to come to the United States and restore the painting - "just for the love of it." (Her relatives and friends or some institution in the United States would have to pay for her transportation, board, and room, because the Czechoslovakian government doesn't allow trips on Czechoslovakian citizens' expense. - The St. John's Guild in Pisek has consented to pay for the transportation, etc., if Jaroslava is still able to come to the USA for restoration work.)

The details which Jaroslava sent were obtained from the correspondence of the artist, Alfons Mucha, with his father, Andrew, and from Andrew's correspondence with his friends in the United States. The details are as follows:

1. The picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius was finished on April 7, 1887, while Mucha was at the Art Academy in Munich. It took Mucha at least two years to finish the painting.

2. This painting was Mucha's first large picture.

17Some publications on Mucha are Brian Read's Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1963 (with 36 reproductions of Mucha's works) and Alphonse Mucha-Art Nouveau, a catalog published by Grosvenor Gallery and the Arthur Jeffress Gallery in London on the occasion of the 1964 showing of his works. (This catalog contains 165 works of Mucha with 21 reproductions.)
18Father Roth is, at present, the pastor of two North Dakota parishes, Saint John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pisek and Saint Mark's Catholic Church in Conway. He came to Pisek from Chicago in 1948.


3. Before he painted the Pisek picture, Mucha made a sketch in smaller scale (about three feet high) of the same subject, rather a study, which he donated to his father, Andrew. The photo of the sketch is identical with the Pisek picture. Upon Andrew's death, the sketch was given to Andrew's sister, Anna Kuberova, while upon her death her sister, Angela Remindova, gave it to the priest. Father Sikula, in their town of Veverska Bityska.

(While in Czechoslovakia one time Frank P. Rumreich commissioned Mucha to paint a picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius, thinking that their names were to be used in the naming of the Catholic Church in Pisek, North Dakota.)19

(In a letter written to Mucha in 1887 from his sister Angela, it is learned that Rumreich intended to pay 100 gold pieces for the painting and hoped it would be ready in June so he could take it back to America with him. )20

4. After the picture was finished in Munich, the artist shipped it home to Ivancice so his father and the people of the town could see it for approval, to assure that it would not bring shame to the Mucha family name. Later, Alfons himself rolled it and prepared it for shipping to the United States. An uncle, John Potucek (a relative of the Potuceks in Pisek), took it to the depot. (The painting was brought to Pisek by Mrs. Marie Potucek, Frank P. Rumreich's sister, when she and her family sailed to the USA.21)

5. The painting was donated for free. Mucha wrote to his father: "The painting will be free because it is for our countrymen."

6. The "countrymen" from Pisek donated to the artist 100 gold pieces for the canvas, paints, models and the frame, and another 200 crowns for shipping expenses. The amount of $1,000 was large for the people at that time.

7. In his life, Alfons Mucha painted three large pictures of Saints Cyril and Methodius. The Pisek picture was the first one of the three.22 The second one is a picture called "Introduction of the Slavic Liturgy" in the series of paintings, the "Slavonic Epopei." (A reproduction of this painting is seen on page 14.) The third one is a stained glass window in the beautiful Prague Cathedral of Saint Guy. There are also book illustrations on this subject.

Mucha loved the Apostles of the Slavs since his childhood. His daughter has in her father's souvenirs a little book with the life story of the two saints which Mucha cherished all his life.

8. In the old correspondence there is also a letter from 1884 written by Frank Schuller to Andrew Mucha: "Thanks to the painter for the picture23 and tell him to hurry up with the second one."24

From a letter sent to Mucha in Paris in 1889 it seems that the people of Pisek ordered another altar painting, this time to represent St. Peter and St. Paul, "and their writing is a touching relic from the pioneering days of America.":25

19Gunder V. Berg, editor. Walsh Heritage-A Story of Walsh County and Its Pioneers. Published by Walsh County Historical Society. 1976. Volume II p. 657.
20Jiri Mucha. KanKan Se Svatozari Zivot A Dilo Alfonse Muchy [Dance With Halo Life and Work of Alfonse Mucha] Obelisk. nakladatelstvi umeni a architektury. 1969. p. 49.
21Berg. op. cit., p. 657.
22Father Lekavy found the signature of Mucha in the lower left corner of the picture. The signature, which might also have a date with it, is partly covered by the frame.
23It is almost certain that another picture, representing Saint John Nepomucene, was given by Mucha to the Pisek Church before or around 1884. Mucha's daughter says that her father made a life size painting of St. John of Nepomuk while in Munich before he made the picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius. So far, not a trace of this first picture has been found. Besides the picture of Saints Cyril and Methodius by Mucha, the Pisek Church has a processional banner from the end of the 19th century with the picture of the two saints on it. There are also a number of Czech songs and prayer books in the church, some of them over 100 years old. In the sacristy of the church there is a diploma, from around 1920, by which a Confraternity of Saints Cyril and Methodius was established in Pisek. The diploma is signed by Dr. Antonin Stojan who later became archbishop of Olomouc. Moravia. (Dr. Stojan may become a canonized saint of the Church. His process of canonization is being discussed in Olomouc.)
24The "second" picture is the present Pisek picture.
25Jin Mucha. The Master of Art Nouveau Alphonse Mucha. Feltham. Middlesex. England: Hamlyn Publishing Group LTD. 1966.p. 37.


Very dear brother-in-law, we are very glad you will paint something for us and for our little church, for the love of God and of your countrymen in America; for which God bless you. In our prayers we also pray for all donors to our church of God. Here are the measurements for the picture of Saints Peter and Paul, fifteen inches wide and forty-eight inches high. The altar is built in one piece against the wall of the church which is wooden; and the altar is also wooden. When I took the measurements, my cousin Sneder Anton was with me, if you remember him, and we stood looking at it and he said it is narrow and it will be difficult to paint. But I said, "Why should we worry? It is the painter who must worry and he will know how to paint it." I would be very glad if it could be finished - and it should not be too sad; it should be happy.

Concerning the cost, you must let me know. The trouble is that the farmers are badly off. The weather this year is terrible, I started sowing on March 18th, and a few days later there was a frost. The whole of March it neither snowed nor rained and now there is a drought. As far as our health is concerned, thank God we are all well. Hearty greetings to you, dear brother-in-law, and respects to the Count... God bless you, Johann Schuller.26

There is no trace of this painting of Saints Peter and Paul in the Pisek Church. But Mrs. Svoboda, from Daysland, Sask., a native of Pisek and relative of Mucha, remembers that such pictures were on the altar in 1894 when she made the First Communion.

We in Pisek are very proud of the work of art in our community. In order to be worthy of this treasure we should keep our great pioneers in good memory, protect the picture as our great heritage, and invite Jaroslava Muchova to our community and have the picture restored in order to save it for many centuries to come.27

27In order to show its proper beauty the picture needs specialized cleaning. Mucha's daughter, Jaroslava, would be willing to do it (she is specialized in this kind of work and knows well the style of her father). The dirt cover on the picture is due to dust, moisture, the smoke of the vigil lights which used to be burning in front of it, and the cracks are from sunshine.


Sarah Bernhardt in "Gismonda" at the Theatre de la Renaissance. The first of Alfons Mucha's posters for actress Bernhardt. Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the-Century Posters in miniature by SandyVal, New York. Sarah Bernhardt in "La Samaritaine" at the Theatre de la Renaissance. Alfons Mucha's poster of actress Bernhardt. Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the-Century Posters in miniature by Sandy Val, New York-015. SandyVal Graphics.


Sarah Bernhardt in "Lorenzaccio" at the Theatre de la Renaissance. Alfons Mucha's poster of actress Bernhardt Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the-Century Posters in by SandyVal, New York. The Four Seasons Spring by Alfons Mucha. Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the-Century Posters in miniature by SandyVal, New York-021. SandyVal Graphics Ltd. 1966


The Four Seasons/Winter by Alfons Mucha. Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the-Century Posters in miniature by SandyVal, New York-024. SandyVal Graphics Ltd. 1966 The Four Seasons/Autumn by Alfons Mucha. Art Nouveau and Turn-of-the-Century Posters in miniature bySandyVal, New York-023. SandyVal Graphics Ltd. 1966


A. Mucha, cs. desetikoruna 1920, lic
Mucha designed currency for Czechoslovakia in 1920 - amount, 10 crown

A. Mucha, cs. petisetkoruna 1920, lic
Mucha-designed currency, 1920, 500 crown

A. Mucha, cs. padesatikoruna 1931, lic
Mucha-designed currency, 1931, 50 crown


Addition to the context of the book of Alfons Mucha's Souvenirs


J. Kautsch, Alfons M. Mucha, Pariz 1903, bronzova medaile
Designer - Henry Kautsch, for Mucha, Paris, 1903, bronze medal


J. Lagae-Ph. Wolfers, zlata medaile Svetove vystavy v Bruselu 1897, lic, rub
Designer - J. Lagae-Ph. Wolfers, gold medal, World's Fair at Brussels in 1897


J. C. Chaplain, zlata medaile Svetove vystavy v Parizi 1900, lic, rub
Designer - J. C. Chaplain, gold medal, World's Fair, Paris, 1900



J. Mauder-R. Braun, stribrna zasluzna medaile hl. mesta Prahy 1902, lic, rub
J. Mauder R. Brown-designer-silver medal of the City of Prague-1902.


Color designed, 1920

A. Mucha, navrhv na Rad a hvezdu Radu bileho Iva, kolorovana kresba, 1920
A. Mucha, suggestion for order, and a star for Order of the White Lion


21. J. Lichtag, Alfons Mucha, Brno-Ivancice 1936, bronzova medaile
J. Lichtag - designer - Alfons Mucha's last medal, bronze medal. 1936.
The underside of the medal is the church steeple at Brno-Ivancice.


(Mucha wrote to his wife about this painting. . . "and the third, Methodius bringing the Papal bull and ordaining Old Slav as the liturgical language [in the year, 863]. This was the pinnacle of Slav power." Methodius and the bull are in the top left portion of the painting.)

(From the Slav Epic - the third painting.) "Introduction of the Slavonic Liturgy - underlining the ideal of concord which is able to assert the right to preach Christianity in the Slavonic tongue."

(Reproductions and descriptions taken from "Alfons Mucha Slovanska Epopei" - Nakladatelstvi Press CTK Foto Praha - Foto Dalibor Kusak.)

(From the Slav Epic.) "The Moravian Brethren School in Ivancice (1578). Printing of the Kralicka Bible."



Restoration plans have begun. Jaroslava Muchova has been contacted for possible restoration. She would like to come to the United States to restore our painting if she can get permission from her government for the trip.

Also the Plains Art Museum in Moorhead, Minnesota, in connection with the Conservation Center in Minneapolis, has been assisting in plans for restoration and preservation.

I would like to thank my brother, Greg Chyle, for all his help in contacting the art personnel concerning our restoration project.

Faith (Chyle) Knutson


(Taken by his wife in their garden,
approximately 1930's.)


List of Works Consulted

Berg, Gunder V., Walsh Heritage - A Story of Walsh County and Its Pioneers. Walsh County Historical Society, 1976, Volume II.

Habenicht, Jan. Dejiny Cechuv Americkych [History of Czechoslovakians in America.] St.Louis 1904.

Kotek, Dobroslav, "Alfons Mucha Slovanska Epopei." Pressfoto, nakladatelstvi CTK, Praha.

"Master of the Tendrilous," Time, LXXXI (May 31, 1963), 57.

Mucha, Jiri. Kankan Se Svatozari Zivot A Dilo Alfonse Muchy [Dance With Halo Life and Work of Alfonse Mucha] Obelisk, nakladatelstvi umeni a architektury, 1969.

Mucha, Jiri. The Master of Art Nouveau Alphonse Mucha. Hamlyn Publishing Group LTD, Feltham, Middlesex, England, 1966.

Polivka, Eduard, Alfons Maria Mucha v numismatickych pamatkach. [Alfons Maria Mucha's Numerous Memories.] Prague, 1904.

Youngblood, Dick. "Czech Artist's Work - Church Finds It Has Art Worth $25,000," Minneapolis Tribune, January 19, 1964.